Whitesmoke to the writer’s rescue

September 23, 2009 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Writing Tools 

WhitesmokeI don’t know about you, but I’ve had it up to here (I’m holding my hand up to my neck now) with the typical spell check and grammar check.

These built-in writing tools catch some of the more obvious things, such as misspelled words, but they’re near useless for grammar and punctuation. And they don’t catch things like missing words.

That’s why I was so thrilled recently when I discovered Whitesmoke. It’s not just a spell checker, it’s a comprehensive proofing and editing system that is a genius compared to what you get with word processing software.

There’s no substitute for a human proofing your copy, but this comes pretty close.

Whitesmoke  isn’t a writing program. It’s a special application that runs in the background and integrates with whatever program you’re using. So no matter what you’re doing or what program you’re using, Whitesmoke is there to check your writing. Well, actually it doesn’t work with all programs, but it works with most of the ones you’re likely to use.

So if you’re writing with Word, entering text in a form, writing a message on a forum, or whatever, you can use Whitesmoke to scan for errors.

Let’s say you’re writing an e-mail message and you want to check it before you send. Just select the text and either hit the F2 button or click on the little floating button on your screen. You click on the suggestions you want to accept or click for more options. When you’re satisfied, click “apply” and the changes are inserted into the document.

Here are a few features:

  • Grammar Checker that catches tricky grammar errors.
  • Style Checker to help you improve sentences, vocabulary, and writing style.
  • Spell Checker for ordinary typos and spelling.
  • Punctuation Checker which is pretty amazing.
  • Error Explanations, which tells you why you made a mistake so you can learn from it.
  • Dictionary–Thesaurus, which is a little more robust than usual.
  • 600 Letter Templates in case you need to write a letter and don’t know how to get started. This is not all that helpful for me, and I’m not impressed with the letters. However, maybe others would find this useful.

The other neat thing about Whitesmoke is that it offers a variety of specialized versions for general writing, business writing, creative writing, bio-tech writing, hi-tech writing, and executive writing.

You can see a short demo for a better idea of what Whitesmoke can do.

And if you’re interested but not convinced, you can download Whitesmoke and try it free.

If you try the demo, let me know what you think of it. It’s not perfect. And different writers will react differently to how it works. I think it’s good for proofing written copy when you don’t have a human proofreader. It’s great if you’re learning English.

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Smart Comments

5 Comments on Whitesmoke to the writer’s rescue

  1. TC/Copywriter Underground on Sep 23rd, 2009 1:27 pm
  2. Given that today’s deadlines don’t often allow time to route my copy through a proofer (yes, I used to do that), this seems interesting. Unfortunately, it’s a Windows only product.

    No love for Macs or Linux. Ah well.
    .-= TC/Copywriter Underground’s last blog … Comfort Is Your Enemy (or, Why Throwing Bricks Through Windows Is a Good Thing) =-.

  3. Dean Rieck on Sep 23rd, 2009 2:07 pm
  4. Well, Windows is about 95% or more of the market. So that explains why there’s no MAC option.

    I can relate to proofing and deadlines. I used to hire a proofreader to read everything, especially articles. The trade magazines don’t even read what you send them and they miss errors. Clients usually have various people proof copy, so that’s generally not an issue.

    I think some people will like Whitesmoke and others won’t. But it’s a decent alternative for the price. I don’t recommend using it while you write, but as a proof afterward. It gives you too many suggestions along the way, which I find annoying.

  5. David M Goodman Sr. on Mar 26th, 2010 5:19 pm
  6. Hello Dean, you have an informative and easy reading site that I enjoy reading. Just a word or two on WhiteSmoke. There are several grammar and punctuation proofers on the market right now. I know for a fact they are a necessity for me and many others. I run every document and blog post I do, through one of these. My blog touches on these points. I am still amazed at my oversites when writing. The best part of these programs is you are free to write and not constantly edit as you go. When you finish, run your work through, correct and publish. Thank you for this very useful post
    .-= David M Goodman Sr.’s last blog … Websites…Do it your way…Children’s books…Sidewalk cafe…Right writer =-.

  7. Graeme Roberts on Jun 11th, 2010 2:45 pm
  8. Dean,

    I took you advice and checked into WhiteSmoke.

    I have now deleted the evaluation copy from my computer but I am still experiencing the consequences of my brief trial.

    The product may be great but the company appears to be sleazy. They bombard you with pop-ups and e-mails, but most offensively they add in the Yahoo! toolbar (which Sun at least makes an option in the Java installation process), make Yahoo! the default search engine, and WhiteSmoke the default home page.

    I despise sleazebags, and I bet that you do too!

    Please be careful about recommending this company.

    Graeme

  9. Dean Rieck on Jun 11th, 2010 4:32 pm
  10. Graeme,
    Sorry you had a bad experience. I nearly always use a separate email address for things like this. This lets me get the info I need but push spam into a little used account where it doesn’t affect me. As for the toolbar, I don’t remember having that issue. Maybe that’s a recent addition.